Farmstead dairy producers sought for pasteurizer loan program
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agribusiness Development Section is looking for small dairies in North Carolina interested in starting or expanding their farmstead operation.
Farmstead dairies process milk produced on their farm into value-added products such as cheese. The milk may come from goats or cattle. NCDA&CS received grant money from the N.C. Agricultural Advancement Consortium and U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase two small-batch pasteurizers that will be available to the most qualified applicants for one year at no charge.
“Value-added opportunities can improve a farm’s bottom line, and this program helps farmers with a good business plan get started without having to make that initial investment in a pasteurizer,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.The department estimates there currently are 18 to 20 farmstead dairy operations in the state.
Applications to participate in the project are due by Feb. 29, and project administrators hope to identify participants by March 15. The dairies will be selected on a competitive basis using the following criteria:
- Business readiness of the applicant;
- Experience in the dairy industry;
- Viability of the business plan;
- Knowledge of value-added dairy production;
- Suitability of available pasteurizer to the planned production;
- Personal investment of time and money in the value-added venture.
The selected recipients must agree to allow officials from the NCDA&CS to review the businesses’ books to track the profitability of the operations using the supplied equipment. The farmsteads receiving the equipment must also post a $1,500 refundable deposit against the value of the pasteurizer, and must agree to abide by all laws and regulations pertaining to production and marketing of the value-added dairy products.
The NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division will help monitor the program and work with the recipients to help them through the process, Troxler said.
Complete rules and information are available from Ron Fish, assistant director of marketing, NCDA&CS, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. He may also be reached at (919) 733-7887, ext. 219, or firstname.lastname@example.org.